I like to call stretch marks my tiger stripes.
I’ve had a few of them on my butt and thighs for most of my adulthood, but I didn’t really start paying attention to them until I got pregnant—when the stretch marks became a lot more noticeable and started appearing on my belly and breasts, too. Instead of getting mad about it, though, I saw them as physical markers representing the amazing things a woman’s body can do (hence “tiger stripes”—we are women, hear us roar!).
Still, despite all the empowered feelings, I wasn’t going to let the stretch marks keep growing and getting darker if there was a feasible way to manage them.
I dove into the most common causes of stretch marks and discovered there is hope!
Although most common home remedies (think cocoa butter, olive oil, and coconut oil) don’t actually help when it comes to making stretch less noticeable, it turns out there are some healthy and effective ways to prevent, minimize, and get rid of stretch marks, for both men and women!
Here’s what I found out about how to get rid of stretch marks.
Shop the best skin care products that work from the inside out to improve stretch marks.
First, What Are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks (otherwise referred to in the medical community as striae distensae) look like streaks or stripes on the skin that often appear pink, red, or purple in color, but as they get older, stretch marks fade to white. Striae distensae usually never fully go away, although they can lessen in appearance.
Stretch marks are actually a type of skin scarring. You get stretch marks when the skin is stretched too much and can’t properly keep up with the change, or bounce back. Although our skin is pretty elastic, it can still become stripy if it is stretched too far too quickly, like during pregnancy or other times when you gain weight super quickly.
Stretch marks appear when collagen and elastin fibers in the middle layer of your skin break. This causes the vessels in the skin to become far more visible and noticeable, which results in the red/purple hue of early stretch marks. Given time, the vessels heal which will cause stretch marks to fade away to a white or even translucent color. Without treatment, stretch marks are permanent and will only fade away slightly like a scar. What is the function of elastin? RenewSkin Inc. explains.
Collagen and elastin are proteins that give skin its bounce and elasticity in the first place. Thus, the rupturing of these fibers can affect skin quite considerably. However, you should keep in mind that if you’re prone to getting stretch marks, they are not a health concern, but rather a cosmetic one.
Up to 90% of women can get them during pregnancy, and some rapidly growing children can experience them during puberty. Stretch marks can also affect both men and women.
Are you a new mom? Read our guide to your newborn's skin here.
What Causes A Stretch Mark? (Risk Factors)
There are several causes for stretch marks, and their severity can be affected by a variety of factors.
Genetic makeup (if your parents had stretch marks, you’re more likely to have them too) and cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) levels are two factors that can have a great effect on the degree of stretch marks. More common causes include pregnancy and other changes in body composition.
The skin has three layers: the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. Stretch marks primarily affect the dermis, which contains an intricate weave of collagen and elastin fibers that keep skin pliable, tight, and firm.
When we’re young, we have an abundance of collagen and elastin fibers. As we age, these fibers begin to diminish and degrade.
A stretch mark will appear when these fibers rupture. It can be difficult but not impossible to help restore the collagen and elastin fibers and restore skin to its youthful and unblemished radiance once more. Clinical studies have shown ingesting collagen peptides 10,000mg daily can help increase collagen density.
More helpful reading by RenewSkin Inc.: https://www.renewalliance.com/blogs/i/causes-of-skin-imperfections
7 Most Common Causes Of Stretch Marks
1. Changes in Weight
Gaining or losing fat or muscle in a relatively short amount of time can cause excessive skin stretching. Stretch marks on thighs and stretch marks on the stomach can be especially common as weight gain often seems to appear in these areas first.
Pregnancy is one of the most common ways that women develop stretch marks. Stretch marks appear as the skin stretches due to the rapid growth of the baby or the natural change in body shape. Stretch marks may develop on the stomach, thighs, and breasts.
More helpful reading from Renew Skin Inc.: https://www.renewalliance.com/blogs/i/pregnancy-safe-skin-care
3. Hormone Levels
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands under stress. It's the fight and flight natural response. However, the downside is It affects elastin fibers by weakening them, thus leading to the appearance of stretch marks.
During puberty, a period of rapid growth in height is common for some people. This rapid growth can lead to skin stretching that ultimately results in stretch marks.
5. Rapid Changes in Muscle Mass From Working Out
Whether you’re trying to get rid of flabby arms or looking for that post-workout rush, according to Dr. Gerald Imber, rapid muscle growth, from things like weight-lifting can also result in striae distensae. This happens when the muscle expands so fast and stretches the skin. Since there is only so much skin on the body, eventually it has to give way and stretch marks appear. 1
6. Prolonged Corticosteroid Use
Corticosteroids pills, lotions, and topical creams are often prescribed to treat various medical conditions. While they are effective at lowering inflammation, the American Academy of Dermatology explains that using them too often can cause skin issues, including stretch marks. This is because corticosteroids make the skin thinner, which decrease the skin’s ability to stretch. 2
7. Breast Enlargement Surgery
Stretch marks may appear after breast augmentation surgery. After surgery, the sudden expansion of the skin can cause striae to develop. Not all women who undergo breast enlargement surgery will be prone to stretch marks, factors such as skin health and implant size should be taken into consideration before going under the knife.
More helpful reading: Natural breast enhancement
8. Cushing’s Syndrome, Marfan Syndrome, & Other Genetic Health Disorders
These health disorders can cause stretch marks due to fluctuating cortisol levels, as in the case of Cushing’s syndrome, or collagen levels, as in the case of Marfan syndrome. In Marfan syndrome, stretch marks may appear in areas like the shoulders, lower back, and hips.
The 7 Best Stretch Marks Treatments, Procedures, & Prevention Methods
Can you get rid of stretch marks for good? Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to get stretch marks to go away entirely. Don’t despair, though! Stretch marks may fade away on their own, usually within a few months. The amount that stretch marks fade can be accelerated along with the use of certain treatments.
While it’s best not to fall for gimmicky topical creams that promise to be stretch mark cures, there are many treatments that have been proven to help fade stretch marks and make them less noticeable.
1. Moisturize Your Skin (Are Coconut Oil, Almond Oil, & Olive Oil the Secret to Fewer Striae?)
To prevent stretch marks from imprinting on your skin and promote the healing process of existing stretch marks, it’s important to keep your skin as elastic and pliable as possible. Dermatologist Elizabeth K. Hale, MD says that well-hydrated skin is “more supple” and may be less likely to show the adverse effects of stretching. While regularly moisturizing your skin can help prevent stretch marks, dermatologist Jennifer MacGregor, MD, recommends moisturizing with lotions that contain ceramides to improve the healing process and avoid the onset of new stretch marks. 1
One thing that most dermatologists can agree on is this: Don’t waste your money on home remedies made out of cocoa butter, olive oil, and almond oil that are touted as “stretchmark cures”. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, several studies have shown that home remedies for stretch marks made out of almond oil or other oil-based ingredients did not help improve the appearance of stretch marks. 2
So, if you really want to get stretch marks under control, you’re better off using a product that promotes hydrated, supple skin, like Taut Hydrate. Unlike cocoa butter, olive oil, and almond oil that don’t get past the top layer of the skin, this hyaluronic acid for skin treatment works from the inside to boost its hyaluronic acid content. Hyaluronic acid is one of the best skin-hydrating ingredients because it can hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water. As it hydrates your skin, it fills out the free spaces between the protein fibers so you can maintain flexible skin. Replenish your skin to combat moisture loss, aging skin, and striae to keep your skin full, plump, moist, and radiant.
More helpful reading from RenewSkin Inc.: https://www.renewalliance.com/blogs/i/best-moisturizer
2. How to Reduce Stretch Marks with Retinoid Therapy (Tretinoin)
Some topical treatments can help fade the appearance of stretch marks, though they will not get rid of them entirely. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends retinoid creams in particular because they have shown to be especially effective when used as a treatment to fade early stretch marks that haven’t yet left a scar.
Retinoids, like tretinoin, are derived from vitamin A. Dermatologist Elizabeth K. Hale, MD explains that tretinoin helps rebuild and restore collagen within the skin, which can help various types of scars, including stretch marks. 3
Regular use of tretinoin and other forms of vitamin A may help gradually lighten the appearance of stretch marks until they are closer in hue to the surrounding, healthy skin.
Although tretinoin requires a prescription from a doctor, other retinoid treatments are available over-the-counter and can be used in tandem with other home remedies. Learn more about the benefits of retinol here.
Hot tip: To make your retinoid treatment extra effective, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends gently massaging them into the skin.
Want some home spa ideas? RenewSkin Inc. has you covered.
3. How to Treat Stretch Marks with Exercise
Regular exercise can keep skin firm, and keep you at a healthy weight, so you are far less likely to develop stretch marks (striae distensae) in the first place.
Cardio, weightlifting, running, swimming, walking and similar exercises can help keep your body at its optimal size—whatever that may be—so you won’t have to worry about stretch marks at all!
4. Reduce the Appearance of Stretch Marks with Diet
How do you get rid of stretch marks with diet? Although a healthy diet that’s rich in protein, omega-3s, vitamin A, and collagen may not get rid of stretch marks entirely, it can help prevent stretch marks from forming and fade existing striae.
When it comes to pregnancy, the best way to minimize the appearance of new stretch marks and prevent stretch marks altogether is by gaining weight slowly, says dermatologist Justine Hextall, MD. If you’re pregnant, you can work with your doctor to come up with a healthy meal plan and exercise routine (if you’ve been cleared to exercise during pregnancy, of course) so that your skin stretches at a slower rate. 4
Maintaining a diet that supports healthy skin can sometimes be difficult, especially if you’re always on the go. One of the easiest ways to get in your daily dose of collagen is with Taut Collagen Powder. It contains hydrolyzed peptides that help treat stretch marks by supporting the collagen levels within the dermis layer of your skin. The marine-sourced peptides, hyaluronic acid, and grape seed extract work together to promote supple, firm, and moist skin. Simply dissolve one sachet of this delicious powder into a glass of water or directly onto your tongue at least once per day to support beautiful, healthy skin.
More helpful reading by RenewSkin Inc.: https://www.renewalliance.com/blogs/i/9-superfoods-for-glowing-healthy-skin
5. Laser Therapy & Other Treatment Options for Stretch Marks (Radiofrequency, Microneedling, & More)
Stretch marks are no match for your dermatologist. While stretch marks are permanent, some of the best treatments for getting rid of stretch marks can be done at your doctor or dermatologist’s office. And no, they don’t require surgery.
Women often opt for a professional stretch mark treatment once they stop seeing improvement from at-home remedies and creams. Considering that most topical creams work best on early stretch marks, in-office treatments can be especially effective at making a scar from an older stretch mark less noticeable.
Most of the following medical procedures work by promoting skin elasticity and restoring collagen levels within the dermis to improve skin health and texture.
Pulsed dye laser therapy—This type of laser therapy uses bursts of light to calm the vessels within the layers of your skin to make stretch marks less noticeable. Pulsed dye laser therapy is completely painless and is most effective on early stretch marks.
Fractional laser therapy—Fractional laser treatment has been scientifically proven to help improve collagen production within the skin and create a smoother appearance. After several treatment sessions, people begin to notice an improvement in both new stretch marks and old stretch marks. 5
Chemical peels (Glycolic acid)—These in-office medical treatments use a topical solution of glycolic acid to burn the top layer of your skin and encourage the growth of a new layer of skin. 6
Microdermabrasion—This stretch marks treatment can help striae fade by using suction and slight abrasion to exfoliate and resurface the skin. 7
Microneedling—Also referred to as collagen induction therapy, microneedling uses a medical-grade derma roller with hundreds of fine needles to prick the skin. These small “wounds” trigger the body to heal the skin and kick collagen into overdrive. Learn about microneedling benefits here. 8
Radiofrequency—To resurface the skin, a doctor can use radiofrequency procedures to trigger the production of collagen within the dermis. For an even more effective treatment, medical devices that combine both microneedling and radiofrequency can be used to treat striae.
Ultrasound—Similar to radiofrequency, a doctor will use ultrasound to produce sound waves that boost collagen production within the dermis.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment—A PRP treatment is used to increase the collagen and elastin in the skin. This treatment starts with a serum of platelets made from your own blood. Then, this serum is injected into the skin, which boosts collagen production for smoother and tighter skin.
Any stretch marks removal treatment that requires a laser, acid, or other types of medical intervention, must be conducted by a qualified medical professional or dermatologist. For best results, a medical professional will usually recommend multiple treatments of the above procedures.
6. Improve Circulation to Fade & Reduce Striae
Good circulation may help prevent or treat stretch marks. One study noted that an increase in circulation was needed to fade existing striae and reduce the growth of stretch marks. 9
A few ways you can improve your circulation are by walking, stretching, and controlling your stress levels. You can also try dry brushing the stretch mark-affected areas, which helps circulation and the lymphatic system.
There are also supplements that may help strengthen capillaries, improve circulation, and delay the aging process of your blood vessels, such as LAC Masquelier French Pine Bark OPC. This treatment has been clinically studied to deliver the powerful antioxidant benefits and healing properties of French Pine Bark throughout your body, not just to your skin. The supplement acts as a protector and vitamin for your skin’s collagen and may help maintain the health of your existing collagen to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and striae. Just 1 to 2 tablets of this antioxidant treatment per day can help neutralize excess free radicals, protect and strengthen your vascular system, and enhance maximum blood flow to improve the overall quality of your skin.
7. Collagen as a Remedy for Stretch Marks
The best way to get rid of stretch marks is by supplementing with collagen. Orally ingesting the best liquid collagen supplement may have the ability to reduce the appearance of stretch marks or help prevent stretch marks from forming. Collagen is essential in keeping skin taut, flexible, and firm. As we age, we lose collagen gradually and our body’s collagen production process slows down, making us more susceptible to wrinkles and other signs of aging.
Stretch marks also develop due to a lack of collagen in the body. Plastic surgeon Scott Wells, MD, explains that striae occur when the “collagen fabric” of the dermis layer of your skin gets stretched beyond what it is capable of. In other words, you can think of a stretch mark as a run in a stocking. He further explains that the best stretch mark treatments actually repair and rebuild damaged collagen. 10
So, you can see why increasing your collagen intake may help make stretch marks less noticeable and could prevent them from happening. There are so many collagen supplements in the market, make sure to do your research before buying.
Learn about the benefits of collagen peptides from RenewSkin Inc.
Topical & Oral Collagen Differences
It’s not enough to only apply creams containing collagen, as the molecules are often too big to penetrate into the dermis layer of your skin, where the damage is located.
Oral consumption of peptides, on the other hand, can address this problem because it allows the peptides to go deeper into the skin and penetrate the dermis more easily via blood vessels, and from there it can stimulate collagen production and jumpstart the healing process.
Taking a high-quality collagen supplement can also help prevent stretch marks in the first place. As we already established, it is a lack of collagen in the skin and damaged collagen that allows stretch marks to form.
By strengthening your natural collagen via oral treatments, you can ensure your skin is tough enough and flexible enough to withstand changes in body shape, whether it’s from being pregnant or otherwise. Denser skin with more elasticity is less likely to become marred by stretch marks, and oral consumption of peptides can help you achieve that.
How to Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy: Taut Premium Collagen Advanced Formula
If you’re trying to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy and strengthen your skin health from within, try Taut’s Premium Collagen Advanced Formula. This pure marine collagen peptide formula helps boost skin elasticity and thickness thanks to powerful ingredients like marine peptides, hyaluronic acid, elastin, and grape seed extract.
Active ingredients include a high concentration of 13000mg marine peptides, grape seed extract, elastin peptides, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and vitamin C. Grape seed extract helps protect skin from free radicals (unstable atoms) that can degrade and weaken your body’s natural collagen reserves.
With this added protection and the combined powers of marine peptides, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and elastin peptides, you can begin to conquer stretch marks from the inside out.
How to Remove Stretch Marks & Minimize Them: Taut Collagen Intense Transformation Program
If you're already experiencing stretch marks, the most effective collagen for stretch marks is Taut’s Intense Transformation Program.
This program includes 3 boxes of drinkable liquid collagen (Taut Premium Collagen Advanced Formula - 24 bottles) designed to kick-start your collagen production by triggering the body’s natural wound repair response. The high concentration of peptides (13000mg) penetrates deep into the dermis to begin the healing process that will ultimately make stretch marks less noticeable.
But if you prefer stripe-free skin, try my tips. The best part? If you implement this stretch mark treatment and preventative actions, you’ll probably end up with a bunch of amazing side effects, like glowing and firmer skin!
Ready to try the Intense Transformation Program and enjoy firmer, smoother, more radiant skin? Select the Auto-Ship option before adding the program to your cart to get a discount on this skincare subscription box.
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